Alumni News

FAMU SJGC Alumna Among PR Week’s 2024 Women of Distinction

Heather Johnson
Heather Johnson

Alexis Davis Smith, Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC) alumna, class of 1993, and president and CEO of Precise Communications, was recently honored as one of PRWeek’s 2024 Women of Distinction. While at FAMU Smith was named Outstanding PR Student of the Year and she was previously recognized by PR Week as one of the Top Women in PR in 2022.

In May, PRWeek celebrated 25 women who represent a variety of media and communications companies for this year’s honor. As described on its website, “PRWeek’s Women of Distinction program celebrates the achievements of the PR industry’s top women leaders, whose leadership, creativity and insight continue to inspire everyone who encounters them.”

“It is an honor to be recognized as one of PRWeek’s Women of Distinction,” Smith said. “Being acknowledged in this way aligns me with PR women that are trailblazers and game-changers in the industry. I have worked hard to contribute to the PR profession…and it’s so nice to be recognized nation and industry wide.”

In addition to this recent accolade, Smith – whose illustrious career spans three decades – is a respected communications strategist and leader. She is responsible for creating breakthrough programs for major consumer brands and she has provided communications counsel for leading companies such as Coca-Cola, Toyota, MassMutual and Cracker-Barrel Old Country Store. Smith is known for leading almost 100 campaigns for Coca-Cola, including the launch of the innovative fridge pack, and working with Cracker Barrel to establish a scholarship for history students at Spelman College

Prior to starting her award-winning company, Smith worked for Ketchum, a top 10 global public relations firm. Her successes included co-founding the agency’s first in-house ethnic marketing team, which contributed to her reputation as a leading multicultural marketing veteran.

However, she credits her accomplishments to the foundational knowledge and skills she gained at FAMU.

“Attending Florida A&M was one of the best decisions of my life. The SJGC prepared me in so many ways. First, it ensured that I could write well – which is a foundational skill in public relations. It ensured that I understood what PR is all about.” “Lastly,” she continued, “it helped prepare me to navigate corporate environments where people don’t look like me and the office culture doesn’t always understand my culture.”

She also offered valuable advice for students who may be considering careers in public relations.

  1. “Learn how to write well. Grasp the basics of writing in AP Style. Writing is a critical and staple skill. Not mastering it can stunt your professional growth.
  2. Public Relations is a field that requires experience. I encourage every PR student to secure as many internships as possible prior to graduation.
  3. Try to intern or get a job at a PR agency. It teaches you how to juggle multiple accounts, meet demanding deadlines, communicate with several teams and clients, and manage budgets.”

Throughout her career Smith has received a number of industry awards including a Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America and eight Phoenix Awards from the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA/GA). She has served as president of the Black Public Relations Society in Atlanta and as a former member of the board of directors for the Atlanta Business League (ABL) and HOPE Atlanta. ABL previously recognized her as one of Atlanta’s leading female entrepreneurs and one of Atlanta’s 100 Black Women of Influence.

PRWeek is the world’s leading public relations and communications publication. It has modernized the business publishing brand and includes web, print, events and social media. Each year, PR Week celebrates the Women of Distinction along with PR Week’s Women to Watch.

“Women make up 80% of the increasingly influential PR profession,” said Steve Barrett, PRWeek’s editorial director. “The Women of Distinction and Women to Watch class of 2024 will truly be an inspiration to everyone working in PR.”

The organization further states, “these PR pros serve as role models for others by having a positive impact on the industry and contributing to the promotion of diversity and inclusion within the field of communications.”

You may click here to read more about this year’s honorees.

More Stories